Among the Swarm Re-Released

Among the Swarm cover
Week two of the re-release series. Today, the 2001’s Among the Swarm, is re-released in digital format via bandcamp.com. This is the second in an ongoing series of releases that will see the entire, out-of-print catalog by mrmoth made available for those who missed them the first time around.

Leonard Cohen

The very first song I ever covered as mrmoth was “Dress Rehearsal Rag.” The first public interest I ever received in this band was from Leonard Cohen fans who were seeking out the cover and despite mine being a very unusual style, they were generous and accepting. There’s something about being in the cult of Cohen that unifies people who normally wouldn’t ever find each other. I mean, he was a folk artist and this band is this one. So already it’s unusual to string those disparate elements together. But such was his voice.

There’s remarkably little I can write originally about the legacy of Leonard Cohen but I can tell you that I have a very dog-eared copy of Stranger Music and a thick anthology songbook that have been my compasses as a songwriter. I, like so many musicians, wouldn’t be who I am without him. To say he will be missed is a woefully inadequate expression of the thought.

Unto the Waste Land Re-Released

Unto the Waste Land cover
Today, the 2003 album by mrmoth, Unto the Waste Land, is re-released in digital format via bandcamp.com. This is the first in an ongoing series of releases that will see the entire, out-of-print catalog by mrmoth made available for those who missed them the first time around. Also available today are the singles for “The End of the Road,” and “The Ether, pt 6.”

White Fragility

White Fragility Cover

Bad cops who use capital punishment as their primary response to the potential of danger are weak cops and shouldn’t be institutionally protected from the consequences of their misactions. Further, they sully the very honorable and brave policemen and women who put their lives on the line to protect all people, regardless of guilt or innocence, in the name of justice. This song is my response to watching too many undeserved men and women die. Some people in authority would rather bend the truth over backward to justify homicide than admit this culture has a pervasive problem with racism. It’s time to come clean and affirm that black lives matter too.

This was the last song that I demoed for the Peoples Punk Band. It was around the time that Ferguson and Baltimore were exploding. We were looking for a tune that we could pour into everything that we were feeling about the situation. That said, it wasn’t a good fit for the band. In the end, Tim and I agreed it was mrmoth song and not really a PPB tune. So it got filed away and then, obviously, everything changed quite a bit. Flash forward a year, and the same problems are still with us and I was back to feeling the same frustration. Posting and tweeting what I felt about it didn’t really feel like enough. So I returned to the song as a meditation on the subject. The lyrics are the product of a couple years of thinking so hard about it.

These lyrics aren’t typical for me with mrmoth. I normally don’t do politics as subject matter with this project. That said, maybe that’s one of the reasons why I haven’t made many mrmoth tracks lately. I wasn’t interested in profiting by the song/subject matter, so anything anyone wants to pay for it will go to the national ACLU organization.

The cover art is by Areej Adel. She’s a brilliant Saudi artist and my friend.

Violence Begets Violence

David Bowie

I’ve mentioned to friends many times that growing up without a father, I was afforded a latitude of sorts to model myself after whomever I chose as surrogate. Certainly, there have been many, but David Bowie was the father of fathers in that regard. Lest anyone be confused, no, I never met him. I was only a fan, and I am confident that many of his fans have feelings akin to mine.

In an existence that demands conformity, he didn’t merely assure us that it was okay to be ourselves, he pushed us to be proud of what made us unique. And just as we got our minds around that, he added that we could make ourselves into whomever we wanted to be and completely revise ourselves whenever it simply suited us. So for 43 years, I have done so. The symbol tattooed on my wrist represents chaos. Change is my essence, but that essence was given to me and today, I must express my gratitude for it.

It is a sad truth that many of us creative-types lost our North-Star yesterday, as it became the Blackstar, a singularity collapsing in on itself as it succumbs to its own gravity. In order to be a professional creative, you must have faith in your vision, endure the struggle to realize it, and mute those little, nagging voices that constantly pressure you to conform your vision with what has safely come before. It takes bloody-minded nerve. It takes heroic bravery. It demands clarity of purpose, even if that purpose is merely some instinctive feeling that draws you in an unexpected direction.

Creative individuals go into the unexplored and return with the spoils that others are too fearful or incapable of getting for themselves. All of my life, the example who showed me that there is no territory too far afield has been David Bowie and I never would have had the bravery to take the chances that I have were it not for him. I don’t know that I would have had the faith to finally leave behind my struggles with substances were it not for his example. I don’t know that I would have believed that you could remain vital and creative throughout the whole of a career were it not for him. And these truths are bewildering because on paper, nothing he did should have ever worked out. He took his strangest cracks and made them chasms between himself and the mainstream, which only drew the mainstream irresistibly, gravitationally to him. While he worked hard to maintain his relevance, he never chased it. He just simply reinvented himself in such a way that the mainstream couldn’t possibly ignore.

David Bowie often identified with aliens but David Bowie was not himself an alien. He was a human being and his death reinforces that truth. But being human does not preclude dual status as alien.

Many of us grew up unable to relate to our surroundings, or indeed our own natures. David alone was culturally able to bring our quirks and disconnects into harmony. Without him, this world couldn’t have made sense for many of us. He was as weird as anything gets at times, yet he was famous and loved for it. If he could be so loved by so many, then surely the rest of us aliens could be too. Bowie made it clear the way to earning that love was to be ourselves, as strange and remarkable as we all are at our most essential.

Today, I am undeniably distraught at David Bowie’s passing, but it is the way with fathers that they must die one day. It follows that in his passing away, we have been passed his responsibility: to show all the young aliens we meet that they too can be at home on Earth, that they should be brave enough to follow their visions and be whatever they are and whatever they want to become. We must show them that there is nothing to be afraid of out there but accepting our unrealized selves. For the brighter they shine, the more they will enrich all of our lives.

David Bowie’s relentless persistence, bravery, and dogged creativity are a formidable legacy to be certain. But a legacy is only valid so long as its inheritors work to keep it alive. We have Bowie’s entire life to see, from beginning to end now. Let us keep him and his legacy alive in the way that best befits his memory.

The End of the Road

The End of the Road Cover

New single, not from Of the Gods at War. Written, recorded, and released entirely within a single day on 29 June, 2014. Track started: 9:29 am. Finished: 10:23 pm.